14 Popular Houseplants and How to Keep Them Alive!
A New Generation Discovers the Benefits of Living with Plants
Houseplants have made a big comeback these days taking over homes, offices and social media making it hard to miss. It used to be that you would only see houseplants in the homes of those obsessed with plants or flowers. No more. Millennials are driving the new popularity for houseplants and finding they are not just for decor but can be useful for so many other things as well. For one, many houseplants help to clear and detoxify our air and some, like the aloe vera, is used in beauty and health products. So we decided to share our insights on 14 popular houseplants and tips on how to keep them alive. These are our most popular, but there are dozens of other varieties to choose from in our Hillcrest shop. We have a large selection of houseplants, and everyone goes home with care instructions. So read on.
Plants can bring life and color to a room otherwise seemingly bland, and they give joy to their owners. If you’re not a plant addict yet, take a look at the list below of the most common ones and boost your home environment and style with one or two plants of your own.
Need additional help? Come into our Hillcrest plant + flower shop and talk to one of our plant specialists. We stock several paperback plant books that are great resources for a new urban plant adventure. Happy Houseplant is a small but packed guide to picking and caring for houseplants while Plant Society and Leaf Supply add insight into using houseplants for interior design and styling along with valuable care tips. Or come into our Hillcrest flower and plant store and talk to one of our designers who can help you decide what plant and pot combination works for your home or office. All of the plants and pots photographed below are available at our retail store and our online store in a variety of sizes and combinations. Without further delay, here is our list of the most popular houseplants and care tips too. And when your ready to add a green friend to your space, explore our extensive selection. We like to think we are the best place to buy houseplants in San Diego. And we provide houseplant delivery in San Diego, too.
1. Majesty Palm
Ravenea rivularis, or the Majesty Palm, is a popular houseplant with long, elegant fronds that resemble a palm tree. Originally from Madagascar, it grows to about 6-8 feet tall indoors, so make sure to position in a place that it has the room vertically to grow. The Majesty Palm has multiple stems shooting from the base and arched leaves. Indoors, the palm does not bear any fruit. Because the Majesty Palm is a tropical, it likes moist air and 6-8 hours of bright light daily to thrive, so find it a sunny home near a window. A more humid environment will also help prevent spider mites.
Water-Water regularly, keep the soil moist in spring/summer months and slightly dry in fall/winter months.
Light – Plenty of bright light, but indirect sunlight. Avoid bright, intense sun which can burn the leaves.
Temperature – The majesty palm is native to tropical regions, so keep the temperature between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. As the plant excretes plenty of water itself, the humidity does not have to be high for it to thrive.
Overall Maintenance – Moderate maintenance. Fertilize every three months during spring and summer using a general, slow-release fertilizer. Don’t forget to re-pot if it outgrows its current size.
The Take-Away: The Majesty Palm is an average maintenance plant that prefers plenty of light and water with warm temperatures.
The Take-Away: The Majesty Palm is an average maintenance plant that prefers plenty of light and water with moderate temperatures.
2. Fiddle Leaf Ficus (Fig)
The ever-popular Ficus lyrata, commonly referred to as the Fiddle Leaf Fig or Fiddle Leaf Ficus, is known for its broad lyre-shaped leaves and height. In its native African habitat, the plant can grow as tall as 100 feet, but indoors the Fiddle Leaf grows in the range of two to ten feet tall. The Fiddle Leaf is one of the most popular houseplants and thrives indoors. Their height contributes to their role anchoring a room, and their fan-shaped leaves are beautiful and interesting.
Water-Water regularly during spring/summer months but avoid overwatering. Water your Fiddle Leafless in the fall/winter months. Only water when the topsoil feels dry to touch.
Light – The plant requires part shade to flourish and should be in indirect bright sunlight to thrive. Don’t place near windows that get hot, afternoon sun.
Temperature – The Africa-native plant prefers relatively dry conditions and higher temperatures. Keep a low in the 50s and highs in the 70s.
Overall Maintenance – Low Maintenance. Dust the leaves as needed with a soft cloth. Fertilize every month during spring and summer, then once in February and again in March. Pruning the fiddle leaf when it is young is an excellent way to encourage growth.
The Take-Away: The low-maintenance Fiddle Leaf Ficus likes regular watering in part shade with average temperatures.
The Strelitzia Nicolai plant or Giant Bird of Paradise is a stunner in its natural landscape and can be quite the prime specimen of your houseplants. The Bird of Paradise looks like a fountain, with its blue-green leaves sprouting from the center. The flowers on this plant have white leaves and blue centers, or tongues. Bird's of Paradise are sensitive to frost, so make sure to keep them inside during colder months.
Water-Water regularly and more often in extreme heat if kept outside and choose a pot or planting location where the soil drains well.
Light – The plant requires full sun and bright light.
Temperature – The plant grows natively in a tropical climate so temperatures should be kept at a low of 50 and thrives at temperatures above the 70s.
Overall Maintenance – Fertilize every three months during the spring and summer. Prune away dead or broken stalks.
The Take-Away: The average maintenance Giant Bird of Paradise needs regular watering, full sun, and temperatures above 70 to thrive.
4. Dragon Tree
The dragon tree, or Dracaena Marginata, houseplant has narrow green leaves with cream and yellow colored stripes running through each. The plant can be as tall as fifteen feet and grows rather fast for the first few years. If you're looking for a plant easy to maintain and care for, then consider the Dragon Tree. One note, the plant is toxic to cats and dogs, so keep out of reach if there are pets in the house.
Water – Only water when the top one inch of soil is dry and never allow the roots to sit in a puddle of water. Ensure your pot has good drainage.
Light – The plant needs bright, but indirect, sunlight. Too much sun will cause the leaves to develop brown spots, and not enough will pale the leaves.
Temperature – Dragon trees need a constant temperature and thrive at temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Overall Maintenance – Low Maintenance. Fertilize in spring and summer. Do not fertilize in winter months.
The Take-Away: The low-maintenance dragon tree doesn’t need a lot of watering, requires indirect sunlight and constant temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees.
5. ZZ Plant
The ZZ plant, named so for its scientific name Zamioculcas Zamiifolia, is often mistaken for an artificial plant due to its waxy coating, oval-shaped leaves and the way the stem starts off thick at the bottom and tapers to a point at the top. It used to be found only in commercial settings such as office buildings or malls because it can take months of neglect and still look amazing. If you’re looking for a beautiful plant that won’t suffer from your brown thumb, the ZZ is the one.
Water – Only water when the soil is dry.
Light – Will do best in indirect sunlight and will even grow well in window-less places such as bathrooms.
Temperature – An average temperature of 60 to 70 is best for this plant.
Overall Maintenance – Low Maintenance as the ZZ does not need to be fertilized often. Once every four months is plenty to keep them happy.
The Take-Away: The low maintenance ZZ plant thrives in indirect light, average temperatures and being watered only when completely dry.
The ponytail palm has a deceptive name because it is not related to palms and is, in fact, part of the succulent family. The scientific name, Beaucarnea recurvata, honors the man that first collected flowers from the plant, Jean-Baptiste Beaucarne, and also refers to its curved leaves. The shape of this tree is unique, starting with the bulge of the trunk at the bottom, for collecting water, and on up the thin trunk to the ‘bent-over’ leaves that spring out of the center much like a ponytail.
Water – Being part of the succulent family, the plant does not require a lot of water and likes it best semi-dry.
Light – Bright light is best, but it will do fine in the light half the time too. Placing them outdoors during the summer and in during winter will keep it happy.
Temperature – A moderate temperature fluctuation is allowed, but nothing too cold, it prefers room temperature year-round.
Overall Maintenance – Low Maintenance but does require fertilizer during spring and summer months. Don’t fertilize in winter when growth is slow.
The Take-Away: The ponytail palm is a low maintenance plant that likes bright light, semi-dry soil, and moderate temperatures.
The Calathea Makoyana, or Peacock plant, is the kind of plant that people talk about when they see one — visually striking with leaves that are striped green and white with green spots emanating from the center of each leaf. The Calathea prefers plenty of humidity. It does well next to other plants that transpire, such as the areca palm, because it will provide enough moisture for the peacock plant to thrive.
Water – The plant needs lots of water. Plant in a pot with a saucer for proper drainage. Mist it to add some love.
Light – The plant does well in low to moderate light.
Temperature – The Calathea plant likes it warm but not too dry. Tropical-like temperatures are best.
Overall Maintenance – High Maintenance. Fertilize during the growing season of April-October following directions on the fertilizer label.
The Take-Away: The Calathea plant is a high maintenance plant that requires regular water and humidity, moderate light, and warm temperatures.
8. Sansevieria (Snake Plant)
The Sansevieria, aka Snake Plant, got its name from the tall and narrow shaped leaves, spotted with white and yellow stripes or shapes, that grow from the center of each plant. Keep out of reach of pets, as they are toxic. On the plus side, they have been found to help detoxify the air!
Water – Snake plants grow in dry soil naturally, so they don’t like to be overwatered and are prone to rot if they are so.
Light – The plant likes light but will grow in indirect light and even with little light as they adapt well. Avoid areas with hot, afternoon sun.
Temperature – Moderate temperatures, between 60 to 70 degrees.
Overall Maintenance – Average Maintenance and generally don’t require fertilizer.
The Take-Away: Snake plants are an average maintenance plant, like only a little water, indirect light, and moderate temperatures.
9. Aloe Vera
Part of the succulent family, the aloe vera plant is not only beautiful but also functional! Having one of these plants helps to clean the air, and the gel found inside the leaves can be helpful for a myriad of things, such as beauty do-it-yourself and after-sun care. The leaves of the plant can grow relatively tall and taper at the end. Each blade also has small spikes along the edges and is about a quarter to half-inch thick.
Water – The plant requires well-draining soil and only to be watered when the top one to two inches of soil is dry, usually once every two-three weeks.
Light – Aloe needs bright, indirect sunlight but will thrive in artificial light as well.
Temperature – Aloe is also a succulent, so it likes humidity, bright light and is quite hardy able to tolerate a wide temperature range, but it prefers temperatures between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Overall Maintenance – Low Maintenance and generally don’t require fertilizer.
The Take-Away: Aloe vera is low maintenance, well-drained soil and occasional watering, bright but indirect sunlight and temperatures between 55 and 80 degrees.
One of the first plants suggested by experts to get started with if you’ve never cared for a plant before, the pothos plant is quite easy to care for but also beautiful. The broad, variegated, heart-shaped leaves run the length of the vine-like plant that can extend for many feet if left to grow in right conditions. The plant is not too picky and can grow in soil or soil-less potting mixes, in a vase of water and with or without nutrients. The plant is poisonous to cats, dogs, and even children if ingested but only if done so in large quantities. The sap of the plant can cause allergic reactions in some people.
Water – If potted in soil, water regularly but not too often. Make sure that the top half-inch of soil is dry before watering again.
Light – The plant can grow in low to moderate light conditions and even does quite well in windowless rooms such as bathrooms.
Temperature – The plant needs an average temperature in the 55-70s range to survive.
Overall Maintenance – Low Maintenance and generally do not require fertilizer.
The Take-Away: Pothos plants are low maintenance that requires regular watering, low to moderate light and average temperatures.
The monstera deliciosa, also sometimes called the Swiss cheese plant, is a vine-like plant native to Central America. The plant is known for its large leaves that are perforated, hence the Swiss cheese moniker.
Water-Water regularly during the growing season and less so during fall and winter. Misting the leaves every so often mimics its natural habitat and will keep it happy.
Light – Bright, indirect sunlight works well for this plant. Direct sunlight might damage the leaves.
Temperature – The monstera requires relatively constant temperatures, between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and enjoys humidity.
Overall Maintenance – Average Maintenance. Fertilize once a month with a diluted solution during the spring and summer growing season.
The Take-Away: The average maintenance monstera deliciosa needs regular watering, bright and indirect sunlight and constant temperatures in between 70 and 75 degrees.
The humble cactus has become a favorite houseplant recently, due to the easiness of care and the fact that they can come in all sorts of different sizes and shapes. When first buying a cactus, it is most likely a small one and comes in a small pot. An expert tip is to re-pot it when bringing it home as the plant has probably been in that particular pot for a while and has used up all the nutrients contained in that soil.
Water – A potted cactus only needs water about once a month. To determine whether to water, take a pencil and insert to the bottom of the pot. If it comes out wet even a little, hold off on watering.
Light – The cactus needs bright, indirect sunlight to flower in a pot. Direct sunlight may burn it.
Temperature – Outdoor cacti resist large fluctuations in temperature, but it is best to keep your potted plant at a constant temperature, around 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Overall Maintenance – Low Maintenance. Fertilize once a year.
The Take-Away: The low maintenance cactus needs only occasional watering, bright and indirect sunlight and average temperatures.
The phalaenopsis orchid, or “moth” orchid, is indeed a spectacular flower ideal for a variety of different home décors making it a great gift. While not classified as a houseplant, they serve similar purposes, so we added it to the list. They come in a colorful mix, including hot pink, deep orange, vibrant yellow, yellow cream, and white. The bloom’s broad, flat petals can be solid-colored, speckled, or striped and last 8-10 weeks. The Phalaenopsis will bloom again if cared for appropriately. It is a favorite orchid that is relatively inexpensive and easy to care for in general with long-lasting blooms.
Water – The plant should be watered approximately three times per week with a simple ice cube. The soil should be damp, but not soggy. Replant once the bloom has finished with a fresh orchid mix. Trim flower spikes after blooming.
Light – The phalaenopsis requires medium to bright light to thrive and does best with bright light, but not in direct sunlight.
Temperature – Average day temperatures should range from 65-95 degrees, with night temperatures no colder than 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Overall Maintenance – Low Maintenance. Fertilize twice a month with orchid fertilizer during the spring and summer months, once a month in the winter months.
The Take-Away: A low maintenance phalaenopsis orchid should be watered approximately three times a week with an ice cube, given bright light and kept in temperatures ranging from 65-85 degrees
The succulent family has a variety of different plant shapes and styles, but most have a few things in common. The leaves of succulents are thicker and can be waxy to the touch. They come in many colors, including green, blue, purple, yellow, and red. Some of the most common succulents are Haworthia and Gasteria varieties but take care to pick one that is suited for indoor growth such as those that require low to moderate light. A good rule of thumb is that the more brightly colored they are, the more sun they need.
Water – Succulents don’t need water daily, but they do need plenty of it. An excellent way to keep them happy is by soaking the pot they’re in than letting it dry out completely before watering again.
Light – Green varieties of succulents will do the best indoors, but still require as much sunlight as possible. Your plant is not getting enough light if you see it starting to stretch out and space out its leaves.
Temperature – Most prefer a minimum of 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Fertilize once in the spring or summer when watering.
The Take-Away: Succulents are simple to grow and will thrive as long as you don't overwater them. They come in a variety of shapes and colors. They are ideal for the busy professional who has limited time to care for plants.
Ready To Start Buying Houseplants?
So that is our latest take on the most popular houseplants along with simple care instructions. Indoor plants are a great way to add style and life to your home. All of the plants and pots pictured above are available at our Hillcrest flower and plant shop, and many are online. Our shop has a large selection making us the best place to buy plants in San Diego. We have a large variety of 4" plants and 6" plants online, and our Hillcrest shop. Our team is at your disposal for whatever type of plant and pot combination you might be looking for to spruce up your decor. We are happy to pot any combination you choose.
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